THE NEW economic sanctions against the radical Taliban government of Afghanistan will not affect humanitarian aid. They are targeted instead on the few but crucial international connections still maintained by the otherwise largely isolated regime. These sanctions are meant to seal Afghanistan off from international flights, access to overseas assets and the receipt by air of money and mail from abroad.
The sanctions were designed to draw the support of the full U.N. Security Council. That body unanimously demanded that the Taliban turn over its guest, Saudi extremist Osama bin Laden, indicted by a New York grand jury in the 1998 bombing of two American embassies in Africa, for fair trial. The evidence of his involvement provided by the United States brought along council members--even China--often found on the sidelines in the struggle against terrorism.
The Taliban regime itself remains defiant and evasive. Assaults have been launched against American and U.N. facilities in Kabul; further assaults are threatened. Half-measures leaving decisions in the hands of the Taliban have been proposed in place of the credible judicial procedures suggested by the United States. On some 20 occasions Washington has communicated with the Taliban authorities on Osama bin Laden, but the Taliban has not used its American connection to resolve that matter and move on, as a sensible government would.
Now that they control most of the national territory and are responsible for affairs of state, the Afghan authorities have to take more seriously their responsibility to rein in terrorism. The new Pakistani government has to reevaluate, too. Pakistan has supported the Taliban as part of its military's longtime reach for an active regional foreign policy. But Pakistan needs a quiet policy that will allow it to rebuild at home. So does Afghanistan.